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On inspiring youth

2010-11-01 19:35:51.13944+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

Last Monday, when we were flying out of Detroit airport, I noticed a poster on the wall. It was a "put a human face on the TSA" sort of piece of propaganda, had a picture of a smiling guy in a TSA uniform with a bio beside him. Described him as a retired mechanical engineer.

I thought at the time that it was kind of strange that we, as a society, educated someone to a fairly skilled discipline, and then made that path so odious that when they had the chance to get out of that field they switched to standing around an airport checkpoint.

Last night Charlene and I watched An Education[Wiki], a Nick Hornby[Wiki] written film about a 16 year old girl whose parents and teachers are pushing her on a track to Oxford, how her teachers and headmistress present their work as an horrendous task that they do for the reward of that one bright pupil who moves forward, and how her parents complain of their life dedicated to helping her get ahead, versus a man with a sports car who sweeps into her life and shows her a fun world of concerts and jazz clubs and trips to Paris.

It put another face on the argument that it is our responsibility to the next generation to show them adults having fun, enjoying our lives and our paths through them. Because if we don't do that, if we don't show them that adulthood is worth striving for, if we show them a world in which we labor through twenty or thirty years of drudgery 'til our pensions vest so that we can stand around at airport checkpoints, the smart ones won't follow us.

[ related topics: Children and growing up Interactive Drama Movies Aviation Work, productivity and environment Television Automobiles Education ]

comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2010-11-02 14:53:04.993924+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, I mis-typed, it's probably 30 years, but even so there's a lot of brainpower sitting and wasting in the midwest.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-11-02 05:53:45.629918+00 by: Mars Saxman

Twenty years. Jesus. I've been at it eighteen, already, and I feel like I'm just hitting my stride.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-11-01 22:48:55.168008+00 by: Dan Lyke

Mars, your life path is probably similar to mine. I just wonder how much more effective I could be if I'd seen in high school or college that there was something worth sitting through those classes for, rather than simply drudgery to be endured 'til I could get out and start building stuff.

And part of my struggle here is that the kids I'm exposed to on a regular basis come from low income households where the irresponsible adults do seem to be having the most fun.

Another factor in my seeing that TSA poster: Various friends of mine come from the midwest, and talk about (or invite out to show around) friends of theirs who've retired from the auto industry and now sit around watching TV and getting fat. My friends are all "I'm trying to get them excited enough to come out here and build something cool!"

So I have additional reason to think that this "put in your twenty years and retire young" attitude is killing souls.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-11-01 21:48:54.355686+00 by: Mars Saxman

Huh. That was my experience, more or less; I wanted nothing to do with adulthood as my parents and their peers defined it, because it all looked like hard work, sacrifice, responsibility, and serious-minded religion. What was the payoff supposed to be? Work, work, work, work, and then you die - how pointless! So I went off and did my own thing, intending never to grow up.

Around the time I turned 30 I discovered, much to my surprise, that I had somehow become an adult despite myself, but that it was totally awesome - with more money, more skills, more experience, and more (and more interesting) friends you can have a pretty fantastic good time. We throw spectacular parties, play music loud, stay up til dawn, ride motorcycles, spend weeks at a time in a cabin partying and skiing, take trips around the world, build enormous art projects, and invent excuses to wear silly costumes. Adult life is way more fun than childhood.

Of course the grownups were right; all that fun rides on the back of a lot of hard work and responsibility. It's not so much sacrifice, though, as simply having to choose one's priorities, and I have yet to find a need for any of the religion. I feel lucky that my youthful obsession with computers put me on a path that gave me these resources; I have no idea what I could have ended up doing for a career if I hadn't compulsively developed programming skills.

Now I'm thinking about the young'uns I know; most of them are growing up with a much broader view of adulthood's possibilities than I ever had.